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Reunion Island - St Leu // Surfing St Leu 2

Killvan's Reunion Island. A tale of a surfers relationship with a reef, its wave and those important moments in time.

The wave data was obvious on the computer, though as I looked at the stretch of reef directly in front of Bruno’s, it was concerning. The ledge on the point was blasting fountains of water a mile high. Triple overhead and stacked to the horizon, it was an awesome display of power.

This most recent computer model was indicating waves three times this size for the next coming days. The fetch of this swell charging around South Africa was lengthy, a monstrosity charging our way. Every swell that hit the coast had played true to its digital word, and this 18 second 10 to 12 feet behemoth wasn’t going to be any different. A local board shaper made it simple.
“It’s always like this in winter’.
There would be a few days before this new swell would erupt, and with the existing swell still pumping, it provided plenty of time to sample the unique walls of St Leu.

It’s almost diplomatic at a size, washing the kids to the end of the line while the old boys sit super far out, and only the European pros knew where to sit for the thicker inside waves that grinded more powerfully through to the inside. Assessing the impending dogs leg more accurately and picking off a keg was the key.

There is power in the water, and in the surfers. A local legend known for enforcement confronted me with garbled English, his name apparently Tarzan. I laughed at his comedic size, a huge man with massive hands gripping the paddle of his SUP craft, waving it in my face. A local supported my chuckle as we both saw his act as a harmless one. An Aussie compatriot was told to fuck off by a big burly bearded Creole giant on the inside, which kept his sessions short. Though for the most part this line up isn’t ruled by bodyboarders, and so far away from the aggressive gladiatorial stadium it was rumored to be.

The outside of the wave is relatively slow for a reef wave, though the dogleg towards the inside delivers the power. Reef surprise boiling in front of you while the lip dances above, waiting to be smashed. After a day of riding this wave the fatigue is revealed through sore hips and legs, and the back of the calf aching from being spring loaded for 20 seconds at a time, it’s a pleasurable pain.

It was the forth block of cheese and eighth bottle of wine, closing days the French way is good for morale. Sitting fireside at dusk we watched the new swell march in with a front of low cloud and rain. The sound we’d heard on arrival again made it’s way up into Bruno’s house, and at daybreak a thick haze over St Leu revealed true Indian power. Bombs exploded on the nearby reefs and the swell lines stacked to horizon made it clear the boards in the bag were far too small.

The following three days were testing times to be in the hunt for waves. Sets maxed out in the 15ft range, and winds howled offshore. There were no surfers around, and St Leu was an out of control nightmare. Driving the full length of the western side of the island numerous times only fuelled the frustration. With an abundance of swell and no known locations to surf, it became a souring taste by the third day. A ski would’ve been great, so would’ve massive écrous, as any surf was going to be alone.




Location: West Coast, Reunion Island. Indian Ocean.
Optimum: The winter months when the roaring forties spin storms up from under Africa. June through to September.
Weather: A tropical island that has it all. Sub zero atop the volcanoes, 30+ at the beach. Wet and dry season.
Surf Conditions: Beachbreaks Reef Breaks, Rivermouths. Sometimes very very lonely and 10 on the Bull Shark scale.
Access: Roland Garos Airport in the capital St Dennis then a few hours south drive to St Leu.
Accomodation: Holiday Rentals, Hotels. Book before you go to ensure optimum choice.
Live Free: 4/10. Sharks kill the joy.




View Furnace   View Carnaval   View St Leu 1   View Universalle   View Transfer   View St Leu 2

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